When you ride the same train every day, stand in the same spot to wait for it, you tend to get to know the people who also ride the same train every day and stand in the same line to wait for it. You also get to know the peculiarities of that station’s particular etiquette.
For example, the spot where I wait, we line up along the yellow line, rather than from the yellow line back, because there is only a small area behind us before the bench and the wall, and when the line gets long, it can block people from getting past us down the platform.
Sometimes, we get someone who either isn’t really paying attention, or is accustomed to other ways of standing in line. Normally, we give them a few minutes to realize where the line is, and if they don’t seem to get it, we kindly tell them where the line is.
Normally, they say something like “Oh, sorry,” and they move. Sometimes they ignore us. This morning, there was a man who was standing behind those of us already in line. As per our usual, one of our regulars smiled and let him know where the line ended.
His response was borderline hostile. He said, “Who cares?” and took a step closer. So we tried to explain the reason the line was formed to the right, and he continued to be aggressive. It didn’t matter what we said, all efforts to be polite and friendly led to him getting angrier and angrier until he finally cussed at us and told us we “better just drop it,” in a threatening tone.
When the train finally came, he parked himself in an accessible seat, put on a pair of sunglasses and ignored anyone and everyone. The whole encounter left me feeling crappy, so I stopped into Starbucks and picked up four coffees (because I couldn’t carry more than that), then handed the cashier my Starbucks card and said to use it for the next however many people the balance would cover.
On my way out I loaded up with creamers and sugars and went on about my way to work, gifting coffees to the first four homeless people I came across. By the time I got to the office, I felt so much better. I hope someone buys that bitter man a coffee today, or otherwise gives him a kindness that will improve his outlook. Six AM is far too early to be that angry already.
Happy Wednesday, Readers! Kindness Matters! Pass it on!